Q: Will any cooktop fit on my standard-depth countertop?
A: Most are designed for standard-depth counters, leaving a couple of inches at the front and back. Some commercial-style units, however, will protrude beyond the edge of the countertop. Because you need some countertop space on either side, width is sometimes a critical issue. Most cooktops are 30, 36, and 45-48 inches wide. Some manufacturers have maintained the same cutout dimensions for years to make it easy to replace a cooktop without having to alter the countertop.
Q: Are cooktops easier to clean than stove tops?
A: Yes. On gas models, sealed burners keep spills from getting into the burner elements. On some, drip pans span the entire width of the cooktop, so boiled-over foods can't dribble below the surface. Both gas and electric cooktops feature smooth glass, which is a vast improvement over individual drip pans.
Q. Are there cooktop accessories I should consider?
A. Yes, on gas cooktops, look for griddles or grills, steamers, rotisseries, wok rings that hold round-bottom, stir-fry pans, and simmer plates that can be placed atop burners to prevent scorching at low-heat settings. Some electric models now offer "keep warm" zones to maintain food at serving temperature, bridge elements that make one big race-track-shaped burner out of two smaller ones, and touch-pad controls that eliminate grime-catching knobs and minimize maintenance (also a convenience for those who lack grasping power).
Q: What color choices do I have?
A. They vary, depending on brand. Most gas cooktops come in black, white, almond, or stainless steel. Electric ceramic-glass cooktops are usually black, white, or a speckled black-white-gray that mimics granite. Several American and European manufacturers offer blue, red, green, yellow, and other hues.